The Easy Way: A Letter to Abby

Dearest Abby,

Last week was an emotional week for your mama. I was told to be thankful that I got to become a mom the “easy way” since adoption is clearly much easier than pregnancy.

This comment brought up all kinds of emotions. First, there was the shock than anyone would have the nerve to say such a thing to begin with. Second, there was anger. I was crying I was so angry. This person was blessed with her 3rd pregnancy in 3 years and she had the nerve to state that I was the lucky one? I never got to see the 2nd line pop up on a pregnancy test. I never got to see the flicker of your heartbeat for the first time. I never got to feel life within me grow and I am supposed to be thankful and GRATEFUL for this? Third, I was hurt. Incredibly hurt. Grief welled up inside me and no longer were my tears of anger but of mourning.  I mourned the years of infertility and my hysterectomy that made it impossible to carry life. I mourned our two failed placements in the adoption process. I thought of Mia and wondered where she was and prayed that she was happy and healthy. It is becoming harder to picture her face but her loss in ingrained in my heart.

I also thought back to those eight long weeks we waited for you to come home. With every ring of the phone, I feared bad news. I wanted you so bad – more than words can express – but I was terrified with every fiber of my being to become attached to you only to be taken away. It was only when they placed you in my arms on June 22 that I could breathe a sign of relief and completely and hopelessly fall in love with you (which I think took a matter of 30 seconds). All of this was considered taking the “easy way.”

I carried this around for hours waiting for the work day to end so that I could come home to you and to Daddy. And it was when I opened the door and you ran to me with open arms and a huge smile that I realized that you are worth it all. Every hug and kiss was a reminder of the gift that I had been given. No one asks to go through pain and heartache but when there is something as wonderful and special as you waiting at the end of it, how could I complain?

I would go through it all again if it meant becoming your mommy.  I will still have my moments of sadness but please understand that just because you were not born from my body doesn’t mean that I love you any less or value you any less or would ever wish for another child. I only wish that I could have carried YOU.

You are my amazing and special girl. You have taught me more about life, love, and faith in the last 21 months that I have learned in my entire lifetime. You gave my pain purpose. Every day I am thankful that I chosen to be your mommy and have been given the honor to watch you grow up. One day you will understand that you have two families that love you so very much and want the best for you more than anything. You are such a loved little girl.

If the road that led me to you is considered the “easy way” I will take it and would do it all over again in a heartbeat.

With all the love in the world,

Your Mommy.

adoptionchronic illnessfaithinfertility

The Fever

Over the last week, I have had the fever . . . bad.  You know what fever I’m talking about – the baby fever. Ever since we switched out Abby’s crib for a toddler bed, I can’t get over the itch for another baby. While I enjoy watching her grow and learn each day, I am reminded of how quickly time has passed. As I watch her get excited to see babies at church, I think about how great a big sister she would be and long to give her a sibling.

If I were “normal,” we could just through caution (and contraception) to the wind and hope for the best.  You know – the old fashioned way. The fun way. The way that I know my husband would look forward to as at least it brought the promise of some action. But I’m not normal.

In addition to the fever, I’ve been having phantom PMS/period symptoms this week.  I’m not sure if scientifically there is such a thing after a hysterectomy but after the week I’ve had, I’m thinking that they need to study it if they don’t already.  I’ve had the cramps, irritability, cravings, the whole 9 yards. I could have eaten my body weight in sweets (no that wasn’t me who was eating frosting straight out of the jar – or was it?). Needlesstosay, its been a slap-in-the-face reminder that I am not normal.

Infertility has once again become a fresh wound.  Even more than the term “infertile,” “sterile” has become a word that haunts my thoughts.  I can’t break out the BBT and stalk looking for signs of ovulation. I can no longer visit the doctor for some medications that while they turn me into a crazy lady, they at least offer the hope for conception.

Instead every morning I stare at my scar. The scar that 30 months ago rendered me permanently incapable of bearing children and reminds me every morning of that day as I get dressed for work. The scar that every morning I want to give the finger because the pain-free days it promised where a myth. The scar that throbbed as I spent an hour heaving from the pain and the side effects of the pain medication. The scar that Abby sees and asks me what it is.

Since I am not normal, the fever entails much different plans.  Exciting plans, but different nonetheless. At least we saved all of our paperwork from the first adoption so maybe it won’t take quite as long to go through the mounds of paperwork that accompany the paper-chase. Instead of counting days on an ovulation calendar, I look at the days on the calendar to calculate how long it will take to once again become “paper pregnant.”  Like my pregnant counterparts, I will spend those days praying to avoid a loss – a failed match – of which we had two our first go round. I look forward to the day we get the call about the match and the anticipation of bringing home a bundle of joy.

So while the fever brings painful reminders of the past, it also gives hope for the future. A hope that will bring a little brother or sister for Abby and will make our family of 3 a family of 4. We hope to start officially start the paperwork next Fall so until then I will focus on the preparations and count down in giddy excitement to adding a new member to our family.

chronic illnessfaithinfertility

My Identity Crisis

When I became a mom last year, I remember everyone telling me that I would no longer be just “Jamee” but instead I would be “Abby’s mom.”  I always laughed about it until one day I got a phone call from my mom.  She asked, “How’s my baby?”  Of course, I responded, “A little sleep deprived but I’m doing ok.”  She then said, “I wasn’t asking about you – I was asking about Abby!”

Reality hit.  What people said was true!  I’m no longer Jamee instead I’m either Mommy or Abby’s Mom.  I have several favorite “mommy blogs” that I read that have posted awesome blogs about this loss of identity that comes with motherhood.  Two of my favorites are written by Katie and Blair.  What I love about these posts is that they talk about the side of motherhood that isn’t often shared.  I think every mom could go on for hours and gush about the joys and blessings of motherhood but often we struggle silently with the challenges that accompany the blessings.

But over the last couple week’s I’ve been thinking – does the same thing not happen with chronic illness?  As we shuffle between doctors’ appointment we often become the “fibro patient” or “endo patient” or maybe even “the patient that has so many things going on that we have absolutely no idea what to do so we’ll just avoid her as long as possible.”  I can’t help but think of the scene in Patch Adams where the students are taking a tour of the hospital and the instructor is telling the students about the patient with diabetes and all of her complications and Patch raises his hand to ask the instructor what her name is.  The doctor looks puzzled but replies “Margery” so Patch says hello to her by name.

How often do we long to be referred to by name?  How many times do we let our identities somehow become our illness?  I love the quote “labels are for jars, not people” but how often do we do it to ourselves?  We exist beyond our diagnosis.  The last couple weeks because of my flare, I have hardly looked beyond my pain.  I have retreated in many ways and become a shell of the woman I long to be.   As I was sitting in bed wrestling with these thoughts, I began to think about how my illness had affected my identity in three ways – as a woman, a wife, and a mother.  How can I move beyond allowing my diagnosis to dictate who I am and who I become?  Maybe you have found yourself asking the same questions.  Over the next couple weeks, I will be posting a series attempting to answer some of these questions.  My husband has even agreed to do a guest post!

Hopefully you will stick around for the series and hopefully we will find healing and encouragement together along the way!